Engineering Student Recognized for Work in Materials Research

Shawn Coleman accepting the MRS Graduate Student Silver award from the president of the Materials Research Society, Tia Benson Tolle.
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Shawn Coleman accepting the MRS Graduate Student Silver award from the president of the Materials Research Society, Tia Benson Tolle.

Mechanical engineering graduate student Shawn Coleman has received the MRS Silver Graduate Student Award from the Materials Research Society. He was recognized for his work on Virtual Diffraction Characterization of Alumina Atomistic Simulations at the MRS 2014 Spring Meeting in San Francisco. The MRS Graduate Student Awards recognize students of exceptional ability who show promise for future substantial achievement in materials research. Coleman was one of 29 finalists chosen out of 168 candidates from around the world.

In his research, Coleman uses computational modeling techniques to simulate and study the way atoms interact, which helps researchers understand why materials behave the way they do. As part of his dissertation, Coleman has developed a way to link computer simulations with experimental studies. He takes information gathered by the computational model and uses an algorithm he developed that simulates X-ray and electron diffraction, two commonly used experimental techniques. With this method, researchers can use a computer to gather information that previously could only be accessed using a diffractometer or an electron microscope.

“Shawn has done exceptional work during his doctoral studies,” said Coleman’s faculty adviser, associate professor Douglas Spearot. “This award is evidence of that, and it’s always a great honor to the department to see our students’ hard work recognized.”

Coleman successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in July. He has accepted a postdoctoral position at the U.S. Army Research Labs in Maryland, doing computational modeling of materials.



Camilla Medders, director of communications
College of Engineering


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